THE CABILDO - LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM
Designed by Gilberto Guillemard, with financing and direction provided by Don Andres Almonester y Rozas, "The Illustrious Cabildo" was completed in 1799 as the Spanish colonial city council. The mansard roof was added in 1847. The building was subsequently home to the Territorial Legislature, the Louisiana State Supreme Court, and the Louisiana State Museum. It was here that the Louisiana Purchase transfer took place in 1803, and the landmark Plessy vs. Ferguson case was decided in 1892. In 1988, the Cabildo was extensively damaged by a fire that originated in the mansard roof.
Koch and Wilson was hired immediately after the fire to assist with emergency stabilization of the remaining structure. After a thorough evaluation, the State mandated that the building be restored to its pre-fire condition, up-dated with state-of-the-art systems, and brought into compliance with current life-safety and building codes.
Contained in the Cabildo Complex are five historic buildings, all of which required restoration and adaptive reuse as offices and meeting spaces. Specialized restoration and replication of the sculpture in the Arsenal pediment, featuring the Louisiana Crest, was also undertaken. The most visible and dramatic work of the project, was the Cabildo’s mansard roof and cupola reconstruction. Replication of the historic timber frame, with approximately 2000 mortise & tenon joints, was a years long process. Virgin growth cypress trees were felled in Florida, sawn into logs, air dried in a modified warehouse in Louisiana, then shipped to New Hampshire to be detailed and milled for columbage framing. It was then transported back to New Orleans where the pieces were assembled just as it had been in 1847, under the supervision of a French master timber framer, using hand tools and following the French-scribe method.